A trip to Brussels for my school friend’s wedding, consisting of many cultural traditions, got me thinking about the history of the white wedding dress.
A wedding is full of joy and happiness. There is the leading lady, a beautiful bride, supported by the gorgeous groom who is surrounded by family and friends. The groom waits with anticipation of a glimpse of his wife to be. The show stopping dress hidden from eye becomes a spectacle.
What to wear on your special day – Sunday best, in vogue dress or made to measure?
The white wedding dress has been credited to Queen Victoria, yet her dress wasn’t actually white at all. Victoria’s wedding to Albert was on the 10th February, 1840. She wore a bodice and skirt of plain cream silk with a spectacular lace veil and skirt flounce.
The official portrait (photograph) of Victoria and Albert on their wedding day, gave inspiration to many other brides to opt for a similar dress in honour of the Queen’s choice.
Prior to the Victorian era, a bride was married in any colour, black being especially popular in Scandinavia. Later, many people assumed that the colour white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this had not been the original intention. It was the colour blue that was connected to purity. The white gown is in fact a symbolic Christening gown.
In accordance with the modest fashions of the time, early 19th century wedding dresses would always be floor length, and would often have long sleeves and a high neckline. The dress would often be a two-part outfit, with a separate skirt and bodice, especially for poorer brides who would want to be able to reuse their bridal dress for other formal occasions.
Up until the late 1930s, wedding dresses reflected the styles of the day. From that time onward, wedding dresses have traditionally been based on Victorian styles.